Avoiding Plagiarism: MLA Citation Style
Nelson Poynter Memorial Library
Welcome to the Avoiding Plagiarism: MLA Citation Style learning module. This module provides information about and recommendations for:
Self-assessment activities include:
This module is designed to be completed in 15 minutes.
Watch this video for a fun and informative tale spinning academic plagiarism to Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol.
As most of this video is not in English, press the CC-button to turn the subtitles on.
What is plagiarism?
More bluntly plagiarism is theft and it goes against the US Copyright law and the USFSP Code of Conduct.
Plagiarism can easily be avoided -- just cite where you got your information. Don't be bashful, boast about your sources! Most instructors like or require that you to consult relevant books and articles for your papers – so let them know where you got your information.
As you do your research, keep track of the books, articles, and other resources that you consult WHILE you are doing your research. This will save you time from having to recreate your research or later track down where you found your information as you prepare your Reference List. For each source keep a list of the following information:
For a Book -- Author, Book Title, Place of Publication, Publisher, and Date of Publication
For an Article -- Author, Article Title, Journal Title, Volume Number, Issue Number, Page Numbers, Year of Publication, and the date of when you viewed the article
For a Webpage -- Author, Web Page Title, the URL (website address), and the date of when you viewed the webpage
As you write your research paper, be sure to:
A citation style is a consistent method for documenting resources and acknowledging the original creator of an idea, thought, or quote. For example, the author's name always appears in the same place, the date of publication always appears in the same place, etc. This consistency enables readers who are familiar with that style to easily locate the various elements and understand important information such as who wrote the document, when was it published.
A citation style is how you give credit to the people, articles, webpages, and videos that you used as the basis of your work. By creating a bibliography and citing in the text of your paper can help you avoid any accusations of plagiarism. A reference contains all the information needed for you or your readers to find your original source whether it was published in a book, in a newspaper, or on the web and the elements of the citation provide a map that direct your readers to location of your sources.
Finally, a citation style contributes to the academic process and demonstrates how you are contributing to the scholarly conversation and building upon previous knowledge. Whether you are improving, refuting, or building upon the work of past researchers, your reference list places you academic process.
In this module, we focus on how to properly create reference entries and in-text citations using the MLA Citation Style as defined by the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th Edition. The MLA Citation Style is commonly used in the fields of Literature, History, and other disciplines in the Humanities.
You will learn how to create and cite reference entries and in-text citations for basic sources such as books, journal articles, and web pages. As there are many other types of sources that you may use in your papers and presentations (such as dissertations, newspaper articles, personal interviews, etc.) be sure to consult the MLA Manual or the OWL at Purdue for more specific guidelines.
Create a new page called Works Cited and place it at the end of your paper. You will list all the sources that you use to write your paper.
General Guidelines for Reference Lists in MLA Style:
Please note the specific format guidelines for a book reference:
Print Book Citation:
Author Last name, First name. Book Title. Publisher Location: Name of Publisher, Year Published. Print.
Electronic Book Citation:
Author Last name, First name. Book Title. Publisher Location: Name of Publisher, Year Published. Database Name. Web. Day Month Year of Access.
McGilly, Kate. Classroom Lessons: Integrating Cognitive Theory and Classroom Practice. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 1994. Print.
McGilly, Kate. Classroom Lessons: Integrating Cognitive Theory and Classroom Practice. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 1994. NetLibrary. Web. 31 August 2012.
Guidelines for a journal article reference:
Print Article Citation
Author Last Name, First Name. "Title of the Article." Journal Name Volume. Issue (Year of Publication): Page Numbers. Print.
Electronic Article Citation
Author Last Name, First Name. "Title of the Article." Journal Name Volume. Issue (Year of Publication): Page Numbers. Database Name. Web. Day Month Year of Access.
As you can see, the elements of a journal article citation contain some similarities and some differences from the book reference format.
Example: Print Journal Article
Bendito, Petronio A. "Aspects of Visual Attraction: Attention-Getting Model for Art and Design." Journal of Visual Literacy 25.1 (2005): 67-76. Print.
Example: Electronic Journal Article:
Phillips, Scott. "Criminology: Legal Disparities In The Capital Of Capital Punishment." Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 99.3 (2009): 717-755. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Mar. 2010.
Finding all the required information to properly cite a web page can be very tricky and require some searching. Some tips to find the information you need
The general format for a web page reference entry:
Author Last name, First name. Title of Web Page. Publication Year. Web. Day Month. Year.
SIL International. Home page. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 2009. Web. 13 Oct. 2009.
Parenthetical citations are also more commonly referred to as In-text Citations. In-text citations should be used throughout your paper wherever you quote an author, paraphrase a source, or refer to someone's idea, concept, or research findings.
In-text citations in the MLA style usually include:
For example: If you used this book in your paper:
Anderson, Chris. The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More. New York: Hyperion, 2006. Print.
The corresponding in-text citation should look like this: (Anderson 75-94)
An in-text citation is frequently located at the end of a sentence to indicate that you are citing another author's ideas or text. If this is the case, the in-text entry should be added before punctuation at the end of the sentence. For example:
However, if the author is mentioned within the sentence, the in-text citation of the page numbers should be included at the end of the sentence. For example:
If you are citing books with chapters or multiple volumes or editions, include this information in the in-text citation to help your readers locate the source. For example:
Finally, each source that you cite within the text of your paper should be listed on your Work's Cited page. Correspondingly, each source listed on your Work's Cited page should also be cited within the text of your paper.
Read the following statements and mark True if the sentence should be cited and False if it is not required.
Show/hide comprehension question...
These tools can help you manage your references, automatically generate your reference list, create in-text citations within your paper, and generally speed up your reference and bibliography process. As a note of warning, be sure to edit and format of any of the references you download using these tools. These automatically generated references may contain typos and misplaced and/ or missing information. Additionally, always make sure you reference list is in alphabetical order and is the same font type and size as the rest of your paper.
in the USF Libraries Catalog, click on the Cite This link to automatically generate references in APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA Turabian citation styles
Many scholarly databases provide a citation generator tool. The terminology and location on the website may vary from database to database; be sure to look for the terms such as Cite, Export, or Manage References. For example, for articles you find in the Academic Search Premier database:
RefWorks is a web-based research management tool that allows you to import references from many electronic databases and catalogs, include in-text citations in your paper, build a bibliography using a variety of citation styles, and create a bibliography in a choice of formats.
This module has provided you with an overview How to ethically use information, how to avoid plagiarizing sources, and how to format basic References and In-Text citations using the MLA Citation Style. While you have now learned how to construct the basic formats for book, article, and web page references, consult the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed. (2009) for reference examples for other types of sources.
Thoroughly referencing and citing all of our sources is an crucial way to avoid plagiarism and to effectively document the facts, ideas, and direct quotes that you use in writing.
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Use the USFSP:
MLA Reference List Style Guide or
MLA In-Text Citation Style Guide
Consult the OWL at Purdue:
MLA Formatting and Style Guide
Or call the Nelson Poynter Library Information Desk: